- Gonzaga finished the year 30-3 and is the No. 1 seed in the West Region
- Florida State beat Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 last year
- Michigan and Florida State met in the West Region final (Elite Eight) in the 2018 NCAA Tournament
The West Region of the NCAA Tournament is headlined by the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who will be a No. 1 seed for the third time in school history.
At first glance, it’s one of the weaker sections of the bracket. Does that make the Zags the best bet to win it and make the Final Four?
Odds to Win 2019 West Region
|Team||West Region Tournament odds|
|Prairie View A&M||+20000|
Bulldogs Are Heavily Favored
The Bulldogs are the chalk in the West Region, which is not that surprising. This is a team that ranks first in the KenPom ratings in terms of offensive efficiency, effective field-goal percentage, and two-point percentage.
They also have a senior point guard, which is always key. Josh Perkins is a four-year starter.
— Gonzaga Basketball (@ZagMBB) March 13, 2019
Up front, they are going to be really difficult to handle as Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura are about as good of a frontcourt as it gets (not to mention Killian Tillie, another future NBA draft pick). Clarke hits 71.2% of his two-point field goals while Hachimura averages 20.1 points per game.
There are some hurdles in this bracket, including a Florida State team that knocked them out of the tournament last season, and a couple of really good defensive teams in Michigan and Texas Tech.
However, those teams have their own challenges and don’t match up well with Gonzaga.
Michigan Has a Tough Draw
It feels like the bottom half of this region is tougher than the top half. That’s bad news for No. 2 Michigan. They should get past Montana but will then have to deal with either a No. 10 Florida team that likes to grind – just like Michigan – or a No. 7 Nevada team with an extremely high ceiling.
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— Michigan Men’s Basketball (@umichbball) January 24, 2019
Get by those teams and they’ll probably face No. 3 Texas Tech. Michigan is No. 2 in the KenPom defensive efficiency ratings while Texas Tech is No. 1 in the category.
There’s also Buffalo, a No. 6 team that finished with the most wins in the country at 31-3.
There are a lot of challenges here for Jon Beilein.
Who Stops Gonzaga?
There are a lot of cute teams in the West Region but few powerhouses. No. 4 Florida State made a nice run in the ACC Tournament, but they’re just 6-4 in away games. They’ve beaten some ranked teams but typically struggled against elite sides this season.
They gave Gonzaga problems last year but now the Zags have more height.
Congrats to Jarrett Culver who reached the 1,000 point milestone after scoring 26 points against WVU last night. He is the 42nd player in #TexasTech history to pass the scoring milestone and the first to accomplish it as a freshman-sophomore. #4To1
— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) March 15, 2019
No. 3 Texas Tech, has played well this season but it’s mostly been a down year in the Big 12. As good as their defense is, their offense has a tendency to completely disappear from time-to-time, so that makes them hard to trust.
No. 5 Marquette has lost five of six heading into the Tournament and many people will bet against them in the first round versus No. 12 Murray State.
And while No. 6 Buffalo and No. 7 Nevada have had good seasons, they’re both ranked 22nd or lower in the KenPom rankings, suggesting that they’re not up for this task.
Nevada Is an Interesting Bet
If you’re looking at sleepers here, I like Nevada. This is a team that blew a 12-point lead to Loyola-Chicago in the Sweet 16 last year but returns virtually everyone. They earned a share of the Mountain West title but a couple of losses to San Diego State and a loss at Utah State dropped this team significantly.
— Nevada Basketball (@NevadaHoops) March 17, 2019
Remember, Nevada spent much of the season in the Top 25, getting as high as No. 6. This team has five fifth-year seniors in the starting lineup, including the Martin brothers (Caleb and Cody). This team is capable of getting to the Elite Eight.
Bulldogs the Best Bet
A lot of people will take the two defensive stalwarts in this bracket – Michigan and Texas Tech – but their defense and slow pace don’t worry me. Gonzaga ranks No. 1 in points per possession in the half-court, so they can be efficient in grind-it-out type of games.
FINAL FOUR ODDS: West:
 Gonzaga 48%
 Michigan 17%
 Texas Tech 14%
 Florida St. 7%
 Nevada 4%
 Buffalo 3%
 Marquette 3%
 Syracuse 1%
 Florida 1%
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) March 18, 2019
This is the most complete team and they’re experienced. They got their bad night out of the way with the loss to St. Mary’s in the WCC tournament final and should be focused the rest of the way.
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